Of toothpicks and facelifts…

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I nearly chuckled my lungs out at a story in this publication about the possible deregistration of 10 political parties for various infractions. Some of the biggest infractions by these parties are said to be their failures to elect their national executive committees (NECs) as well as their failures to produce leases to confirm that they have offices and are not operating from the boots of second and third hand cars imported from Kathmandu or alternatively Japan (in the case of the better of these ubiquitous parties).

If the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) is tasked with ensuring regulatory etiquette by all our ubiquitous political parties, then it indeed has its work cut out.  Some of the regulations the IEC is expected to enforce against these political parties are simply unenforceable.

Let’s take for instance the requirement of electing national executive committees (NEC).  How can parties like the White Horse Party, All Democratic Corporation (ADC) and Areka ea Baena, just as an example, be realistically expected to have NEC elections and produce credible and legitimate NEC lists when their only members are the founders and their concubines?

How can a party comprising its founder, his girlfriend, the girlfriend’s son from another guy, the founder’s bored and unemployed nephew and a herd-boy who tends after the founder’s goats and chickens be expected to have NEC elections and produce a credible list of NEC members? If indeed such a party produces one, it will all be a hoax, to quote Donald Trump’s most favourable sobriquet. Any NEC list provided by such a party will be a fake one. So why should the IEC bother?

Equally, how are most of these parties expected to produce office leases. If this requirement is enforced, it means every house and building in Lesotho must be converted into office space to cater for our countless political parties.   There are just too many of them to house them at the BNP Centre only.

And should parties like the All Democratic Corporation be considered real political parties. Are they not corporations that must be regulated by the Ministry of Trade under the provisions of the Companies Act?

The IEC would do itself good if it insisted on authentic NEC lists before it actually registers these parties? Since most of them are family affairs, it means they would be wholly unregistrable.

In addition to the All Democratic Corporation and Areka ea Baena, some of the parties contemplated for deregistration are the Lesotho People’s Congress (LPC), Senkatana, the African Unity Movement (AUM), Basotho Batho Democratic Party (BBDP), Lekhotla la Mekhoa le Meetlo (LMM), the National Independence Party (NIP) the Lesotho Workers Party and the White Horse Party. The Popular Front for Democracy (PFD) led by our justice minister Lekhetho Rakuoane is also in the firing line.  That is a major cause of concern. The PFD is led by the highly esteemed lawyer and justice minister, Ntate Rakuoane, who must lead by example in observing the laws of the land. His party stands accused of not having held NEC elections in nearly 10 years. So are all the other parties.

But again, what’s the point of having NEC elections when the leader of the party is also the treasurer, chairman, secretary, commissar, deputy chairman, committee member, and the only card-carrying member of the party?

My disdain for the numerous political parties in this country – borne out of a deep sense of conveyer belt opportunism – is well known and well recorded. In a country where you have more political parties than people, you risk ending up with a dysfunctional political system. There is no better illustration of this dysfunctionality than in the names of these parties.

Take for instance parties like the Lekhotla la Mekhoa le Meetlo (LMM), Areka ea Baena and White Horse Party? They are so weirdly named not on account of lack of imagination by their founders, I think. They are so named because we have just too many parties.  We have run out of names. We have exhausted every possible noun in the dictionary in naming political parties.

And by the way, I also didn’t know that every registered political party actually get a stipend from the IEC.  I think this could be the reason why we have more political parties than people.  The only way to end the circus in our politics is if I can form my own party. I been contemplating forming one for a long time, my disdain for our many political parties notwithstanding.  The difference is that my party would be the only one that will make a real difference in the lives of Basotho. It will not take any money from the IEC but make generous donations to the IEC.  Don’t grumble that this is what politicians always say. Scrutator is different because my track record is well known. My knowledge, intelligence, beauty, lovely hairstyle, shiny lipstick and high heels will be a certain vote winner. The wisdom which I spew every week is indispensable to this country. I have just been informed that during the two weeks I was missing because of Covid, the divorce rate in the country went through the roof. Husbands who were angry at missing my column took their rage onto their wives.  So why should I not venture into politics on account of my popularity?  My problem is that we are running out of names because of so many useless parties that have been formed over the years. I suggest calling my party Scrutator For Basotho (SFB). Unlike most of the boyfriend and girlfriend parties, SFB will have so many members that I will not be able to accommodate them all in the party. I will have to donate members to other parties. I will also ensure NEC elections before we even register the party. So, the IEC will not even have to worry about scrutinizing the SFB. Above all, I will be an excellent Prime Minister. Just imagine what would become of Lesotho if I actually get to implement the wisdom that I spew in this column every week but that is routinely ignored by career politicians.

Upon registration of the SFB, most other parties would become irrelevant.  The SFB is our only way of eliminating conveyer belt opportunism in our politics and ensuring that we become a one-party state.

My intuition to form the SFB to save this nation was also borne out of the events that unfolded as I wrote this column.   As I wrote this column, another party called the Basotho Liberation Movement (BLM) was being registered by the IEC.   The BLM is perhaps Lesotho’s two-millionth party. What scared the shit out of me is the name of the party.  I honestly thought the time of liberation politics is over and Africa is wholly liberated. So, who does ‘M’e ‘Mapuleng Montši, the BLM leader, hope to liberate?  Is she out to liberate herself or her husband or boyfriend? If so, liberate them from what? Basotho are already liberated. The great son of Moshoeshoe led us to independence in 1966. So, it can’t be Basotho that Mme Montši want to liberate?  In fact, upon registering her party, she should have been automatically arrested for treason. Like the insurrection we saw in South Africa recently, me think Mme Montši is up to no good. She needs to be watched.

In his speech marking BLM’s formal registration, IEC commissioner, Tšoeu Petlane, was reported as saying if the trend continues, it would not be a surprise if Lesotho would be having at least 100 political parties by the time of the 2022 elections.  Surely what planet is Ntate Petlane residing on. Doesn’t he know we have already surpassed that mark and we have more political parties than voters. The real risk for 2022 is that each Mosotho would be voting for his or her own party. It will then be impossible to form government. The only way out of that conundrum will be the SFB. The only party capable of garnering votes from West to East, East to West, South to North, North to South, North East to South East. South West to North East, you name it.

Ntate Petlane was however spot on that it is wrong to view the proliferation of political parties as a sign of a healthy, vibrant democracy, “It could also mean that there is political intolerance among politicians and anyone can form their own party whenever they fall out with others in their previous parties.

“This could also mean that we have derailed and lost our way. We really need to look into what each party brings to the table,” Commissioner Petlane said. He was spot on. The only way out is to look at what the SFB will bring to the table.

If Keketso Rantšo has her Reformed Congress of Lesotho (RCL), ‘Machabana Lemphane-Letsie her HOPE party and Harvest FM radio owner ‘Malichaba Lekhoaba’s her United for Change (UFC) party why shouldn’t Scrutator become the latest woman to have her SFB.

Only the SFB will grow Lesotho into a formidable $10 trillion economy.

Another development that nearly got my lungs off me was a report that the Chalane Phori squandered M25 million importing toothpick carving machines to boost employment and end poverty in Lesotho.

If the carving of toothpicks is Ntate Phori’s idea of creating jobs and ending poverty, then God help us.  I have no particular problem with the idea that Basotho should pickle and clean our teeth. What I deeply worry about is the failure by our leaders to get the basics right. Ntate Phori imported faulty toothpick manufacturing machines which never worked. This means we are still importing toothpicks instead of exporting them; thanks to Ntate Phori’s tomfooleries.

What really shocked me was the allegation that “one machine was turning clockwise instead of anti-clockwise while others were already faulty when they arrived from China in 2019”.  They were all second hand machines contrary to Ntate Phori’s claims that he only deals in brand new goods.

Now you tell me. If Ntate Phori had been tasked with purchasing the government fleet, what would stop him from importing cars that move backwards in reverse instead of hamming forward? This is a real tragedy. Me thinks there is more to this story than meets the eye. By buying machines that turned clockwise instead of anti-clockwise to produce toothpicks, Ntate Phori was engaging in some cleverly procurement gymnastics to obfuscate reality for his own pocket. After all, this was the very same guy who – while serving as small businesses minister and procuring faulty toothpick manufacturing machines – was also complaining that his companies were not being favoured with government tenders.  He did not even bother to ponder the awkwardness and illegality of his complaint. Ntate Phori was particularly bitter that he had not been awarded a M300 million plus construction contract to build some roads somewhere.  Was the toothpick scam a way of Ntate Phori compensating himself for the profits lost in that construction tender. Sounds like it.

Kudos to our hard-working Development Planning Minister Ntate Selibe Mochoboroane for uncovering this unacceptable corruption.  I have no doubt that Ntate Mochoboroane, who I want as my deputy in the SFB or alternatively form a coalition with if he elects to maintain his MEC, will get to the bottom of this issue. He must dig deeper. Surely M25 million could have been put to better use to create real jobs and partially end poverty.

If manufacturing toothpicks is Ntate Phori’s idea of creating value, then why did he also not import machines for facelift surgery. His wife and girlfriend would all have benefited by being in line for the first facelifts. Then he would have invited women from all over the world to visit Lesotho for facelift surgery. Ntate Phori himself would be the facelift surgeon, since we don’t have many of them here. Surely that would have been better value? I thought all that was needed to manufacture a toothpick was a sharp razor blade and dried tree branch. So why squander M25 million on such fruitless expenditure when anyone, including the dullest among the dull, can manufacture their own toothpicks. And do we need any toothpicks anyway for job creation since every country produces its own and this is a product that any country would be loath to import from another. It is also a product that is easily replaceable with any sharp object. How does Ntate Phori justify this theft of public resources. How does he justify this fraud? How can he deny that Charlatan is his most suitable middle name? Let’s hope Ntate Mochoboroane indeed nails this Charlatan.

 

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